Page images
PDF
EPUB

ing in their society all wars, and suits of law, all attempts to the acquisition of wealth, the inflicting of capital punishments, self-defence against unjust violence, and oaths of all kinds.

13. "The government of the church was committed by the Waldenses to bishops, presbyters and deacons; for they acknowledged that these three ecclesiastical orders were instituted by Christ himself. But they looked upon it as absolutely necessary that all these orders should resemble exactly the Apostles of the divine Saviour, and be, like them, illiterate, poor, destitute of all worldly possessions, and furnished with some laborious trade or vocation, in order to gain by constant industry their daily subsistence. The laity were divided into two classes; one of which contained the perfect, and the other the imperfect Christians. The former spontaneously divested themselves of all worldly possessions, manifested, in the wretchedness of their apparel, their excessive poverty, and emaciated their bodies by frequent fasting. The latter were less austere, and approached nearer to the method of living generally received, though they abstained, like the graver sort of anabaptists in later times, from all

appearance of pomp and luxury.".

Dr. Mosheim's annotation to the 11th paragraph above inserted, in which he farther illustrates the origin of the Waldenses, together with the reply to that note, by his respectable trans

1

lator, are very worthy of observation. They are as follows:

“Certain writers give different accounts of the origin of the Waldenses, and suppose that they were so called from the valleys in which

they had resided for many ages before the birth - of Peter Waldus. But these writers have no authority to support this assertion and besides this, they are refuted amply by the best historians. I do not mean to deny, that there were in the valleys of Piedmont, long before this period, a set of men who differed widely from the opinions adopted and inculcated by the church of Rome, and whose doctrine resembled, in many respects, that of the Waldenses ; alí

; that I maintain is, that the inhabitants of the valleys abovementioned are to be carefully distinguished from the Waldenses, who, according to the unanimous voice of history, were originally inhabitants of Lions, and derived their name from Peter Waldus, their founder and chief."

To this annotation, his translator, Dr. Maclaine, replies in the following words:

“We may venture to affirm the contrary with the learned Beza and other writers of note; for it seems evident from the best records, that Valdus derived his name from the Valdenses of Piedmont, whose doctrine he adopted, and who were known by the names of Vaudois and Valdenses, before he or his immediate followers existed. If the Valdenses or Waldenses

had derived their name from any eminent teacher, it would probably have been from Valdo, who was remarkable for the purity of his doctrine in the ninth century, and was the contemporary and chief councellor of Berengarius. But the truth is, that they derive their name from their vallies in Piedmont, which in their language are called Vaux-hence Voidois, their true pame; hence Peter, or as others call him, John of Lyons, was called in Latin Valdus, because he had adopted their doctrine; and hence the term Valdenses and Waldenses used by those who write in English or Latin, in the place of Vaudois. The bloody inquisitor Reinerus Sacco, who exerted such a furious zeal for the destruction of the Waldenses, lived but about eighty years after Valdus of Lions, and must therefore be supposed to know whether or not he was the real founder of the Valdenses or Leonists; and yet it is remarkable that he speaks of the Leonists, mentioned by Dr. Mosheiin in the preceding page as synonymous with Waldenses, as a sect that had flourished above. five hundred years; nay, mentions authors of note, who make their antiquity remount to the apostolic age.” "I know not upon what principle Dr. Mosheim maintains, that the inhabitants of the valleys of Piedmont are to be carefully distinguished. from the Waldenses. . . . When the Papists ask us where our religion was before Luther, we generally answer, in the Bible; and we answer well. But, to gratify their taste for tra

/

dition and human authority, we may add to this answer, and in the valleys of Piedmont.

From the foregoing quotations, the reader will judge how near the tenets and religious doctrines of the Waldenses, mentioned by Dr. Mosheim, agree with the subsequent Articles of Confession of Faith. It is also worthy of research and examination, to know who were the set of men, in the valleys of Piedmont, long before this time, (1660,) who differed widely from the opinions adopted and inculcated by the church of Rome, and whose doctrines resembled, in many respects, those of the Waldenses, and for whom the before-mentioned translator contends that they were the Waldenses themselves.Whom also that bloody inquisitor, Reinerus, mentions as a sect that had flourished five hundred years; and mentions authors of note who make their antiquity remount to the apostolic age. Who these men were, and what were their religious tenets, will perhaps appear somewhat more clearly, in weighing, with attention and candor, the following quotations, extracted also from Dr. Mosheim's Eccl. Hist. 16th century, 3d chapter, where we find the history of the Anabaptists or Mennonites, as follows:

1. “The true origin of that sect which acquited the denomination of Anabaptists, by their administering anew the rite of baptism to those who came over to their communion, and derived that of Mennonites from the famous man to whom they owe the greatest part of their

present felicity, is hid in the remote depths of antiquity,and is, of consequence, extremely difficult to be ascertained. This uncertainty will not appear surprising, when it is considered that this sect started up, all of a sudden, in several countries at the same point of time, under leaders of different talents and different intentions, and at the very period when the first contests of the reformers with the Roman pontiffs drew the attention of the world, and employed the pens of the learned in such a manner as to render all other objects and incidents almost matters of indifference. The modern Mennonites not only consider themselves as the descendants of the Waldenses, who were so grievously oppressed and persecuted by the despotic heads of the Roman church, but pretend, moreover, to be the purest offspring of these respectable sufferers, being equally averse to all principles of rebellion, on the one hand, and all suggestions of fanaticism on the other. Their adversaries, on the contrary, represent them as the descendants of those turbulent and furious Anabaptists, who, in the sixteenth century, involved Germany, Holland, Switzerland, and more especially the province of Westphalia, in such scenes of blood, perplexity and distress; and allege that, terrified by the dreadful fate of their associates, and also influenced by the moderate counsels and wise injunctions of Mennon, they abandoned the forocity of their primitive enthusiasm, and were gradually brought to a better mind. After hav

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »